Have you noticed that since the first of the year, I've stopped writing about how my life sucks?
Sure, I've been kvetching about the new dog and all the other little annoyances that get in my way, but that's normal. 2009 was the year that that my neatly defined little life turned upside down. In the space of a couple of weeks, I found myself dealing with health issues, family issues, financial issues and the realization that the one place where I felt safe -- my home -- was in danger of getting eaten by a science fiction-worthy giant mushroom that could not be killed.
It's no wonder I was feeling a little depressed. OK, a LOT depressed.
When I have the blues, I tend to hibernate. I'm not any fun to have around when I'm in that state, and I don't have the energy to make the effort. Plus, when I did have the desire (like, when BlogHer rolled around), I didn't have the time (because the work on the house was all-consuming) or the money (ditto). It was a vicious cycle, because the antidote to feeling sad is to get out and DO things with people you like. And so the more I hid, the harder it was to climb out of the hole.
But now we're into a new year, and I feel like I want to connect again. I looked into what it would take to get to last week's Mom 2.0 Summit, but as disposable income is lacking, I had to pass. That's why I was so excited when the gang at Silicon Valley Moms Group announced they were holding a party here in SoCal for the contributors to Los Angeles Moms Blog and the soon-to-be-launched Orange County Moms Blog.
I didn't even really care that one of the purposes of the gathering was to meet marketers who wanted to reach out to mom bloggers. (Well, not all that much.) I was just looking forward to getting out of the house and being part of the world again. And it didn't hurt that the shindig was being held at the gorgeous Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.
For one thing, how can anyone be depressed when the view from the window looks like this?
In addition to being old, I'm decidedly old-school. Unless I'm watching Jon Stewart or Steven Colbert (or piano playing kittehs), I don't really like online videos. I surf the web with my sound turned off and I'm too impatient to wait for the presenter to get to the point (reading is a lot faster than watching).
And even though my college major was Radio-TV-Film, I have a hard
time translating what I want to say onto video. Not to mention the fact
that I find it painful to watch and listen to myself.
But times change and people have to change with them -- and I'm not too old to learn new skills. Kimberley is so good at what she does and so enthusiastic about the subject, that I signed up on the spot for a longer session she'll be holding next month. And I've vowed to put more effort into my vlogging activities. Soon.
About the time Kimberley finished her presentation, I noticed my BFF carrying a latte and had my usual Pavlovian response. So it was very good news to hear that one of the vendors setting up in the party room was demonstrating a high-end coffee maker. ("Tell him I sent you," Jill said. Which I did. And I lived to write about it here.)
Ciaran "Momfluential" Blumenfeld was next, straight from her appearance as a panelist at Mom 2.0. She said she hadn't slept in days. I bet it's been weeks. In addition to these two events (and she helped plan the one I was at), earlier this month, Ciaran hosted a Bat Mitzvah for her eldest daughter... and she's got three younger kids at home. I'm exhausted just thinking about her schedule...
...and yet she finds the time to market her services and work with brands, which was the topic of her presentation to the group.
I have a really hard time handling the business aspect of blogging, and these days, just sorting through my thoughts and putting them into words is proving to be hard enough.
Attracting an audience, networking with others, optimizing your content and using social media with an eye towards promoting has lately been more than I can handle. It's WORK, and not the kind of work I've ever had a lot of success with. During my year-long bout of depression, I finally decided not to even try any longer -- to refocus myself on writing material that makes ME happy and just not worry if anyone else is reading it.
I've been guilty over the past year of accepting products for review and then not getting around to writing anything. I don't mean to renege on the promise to write the review... time and events have just gotten away from me, and I am having difficulty estimating how much time I get for my blogging activities.
I've become very selective about the offers I accept (Disneyland = YES, because my daughter and I still love to go. Skin care regimes = NO, because as much as my aging face needs them, I never remember to use the product). I don't like to write reviews about products I didn't like, so I tend not to do them. Still, I am lagging over several items I tried and liked and want to write about. I hope to catch up soon.
In the meantime, I had decided to just say no to marketers until I am caught up.
The good news is that Ciaran and the room all agree that being selective is the way to go. And the marketers in attendance all said they like it when a blogger puts a personal spin on a post (which is something I always do -- which may not be such a good thing, after all!)
It was nice to hear that marketers really DO read our blogs and try to match their pitches to the writers and value relationships. That isn't so apparent from the majority of pitches I receive. And it was good to hear others talk about their best practices.
It was a lot to digest -- especially knowing I was about to enter a room with nearly a couple of dozen company representatives, eager to introduce us all to their products.
So I guess I'm at a crossroads. The truth is that I probably have less than five years left to be viable to marketers as a "mommy blogger." The gravy train is going to come to an end, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. My challenge is to stay true to the things that garnered me an audience in the first place. I've accepted the fact that my audience will always be a small one. That's OK, because I need to write about what tickles ME... and as I seem to spend the majority of my time acting as my family's head consumer, sometimes that will be a product I like. If any of it coincides with what others are interested in, that will be nice.
I'm slowly going through the swag bag I took home from this fabulous event and will be posting quick impressions here. And maybe by the time I finish, I'll be all caught up. Maybe I'll even have a handle on the business stuff. Maybe I'll make a video.
Maybe I'll drive to the beach.
DISCLOSURE: I want to thank the Silicon Valley Moms Group and the sponsors of Sunday's event for hosting me. I have not received any payment for the posts on this blog or any other blog and have made no promises regarding the merchandise I received at the event. All opinions expressed on this blog and others I write are mine alone.